QE2 Story Forum

The QE2's Story (in-service) => Service Life (1969 - 2008) => 1969 and the 1970s => Topic started by: CAP on Apr 15, 2012, 07:59 AM

Title: Maiden Voyage - Burial At Sea
Post by: CAP on Apr 15, 2012, 07:59 AM
It appears that around 8:00 on the 5th May 1969 QE2 came to a stop whilst on her maiden Transatlantic Crossing.  Reason being to commit the body of a Mr Ernest Sharp to the deep.

Ernest Sharp had been with Cunard for over thirty years serving as a steward on both Queens.  It was his greatest wish to serve aboard the third.

Within an hour QE2 continued her journey.

God rest his soul!
Title: Re: Maiden Voyage - Burial At Sea
Post by: Lynda Bradford on Aug 23, 2012, 08:52 PM
Would burial at sea have been the steward's wishes or was it common practice to commit the body to the sea?  Also is it still the practice to have burials at sea?
Title: Re: Maiden Voyage - Burial At Sea
Post by: Rod on Aug 23, 2012, 10:20 PM
Burals at sea where not common. In 20 years I witnessed 2 and 3 scatterings of ashes. One of them very embarrasing!
If the death has occured on board, then is an autopsy required, by the relevant authority? If the ships Doctor is certain of the cause of death then he may issue a death certificate and with the approval of the authorities then burial at sea may take place. Are suspicious circumstances involved?
Families wishes must also be taken into account.
If it is decided that a burial at sea is to take place then the body is prepared and and wrapped into "Burial Canvas", I kid you not, it is special stuff, with the traditional "last stitch" going through the nose, package is suitably weighted. Encanvassment is usually done by the Bosuns Mate assisted by any Cadets..."for experience" Yes Idid it!
 Burial usually takes place from a forward car door on 4 deck. During the service the Captain gives the order to "Stop Engines" Engine room has already been slowing down. Props are stopped, body committed and Full speed ahead given. Remember, that on a steam ship and a diesel for that matter,,,this costs an awful lot of money! Far more difficult on a steam turbine because, except in case of an emergency you cannot go from 28 knots to stop in a heartbeat without damage occuring, at the very least lifting safety valves....worst case warping turbines! Diesel electric totally different.
During scattering of ashes what would happen is that the ER would be given a verbal order to ignore telegraphs. Telegraphs would be put to stop, noted in ships log, engines stopped for interment of Mr. whoever, position noted, ER would ignore telegraphs, ashes would be scattered, telegraphs would be put
to full ahead, verbal order would be given to ER to obey telegraphs and all up to Captains Cabin for drinkies!
Title: Re: Maiden Voyage - Burial At Sea
Post by: Lynda Bradford on Aug 24, 2012, 10:00 AM
Thanks Rod for sharing your first hand knowledge. For the young cadets being involved in wrapping the body it must have been quite an introduction to the realities of life at sea.  Do you know why there is the tradition of putting the last stitch through the nose?
Title: Re: Maiden Voyage - Burial At Sea
Post by: riskygizmo on Aug 24, 2012, 11:29 AM
as far as I understand it, the last stich was put through the nose as a "last chance" to revive an unconscious
but not yet dead man.
Title: Re: Maiden Voyage - Burial At Sea
Post by: Rod on Aug 24, 2012, 10:39 PM
The last stitch, dates back to the days when sailors were "press ganged" into the Navy... i.e, knocked out and when they woke up they were at sea. Obviously many were unhappy. Some when the ship was near land, would fake their deaths and bribe a friend to put a knife in the burial shroud with them. They would hit the water, sink and then cut the shroud open and swim to shore. When this was discovered, the last stitsch was put through the nose. If a sound was heard.....you were not dead but soon would be as you would be tried for desertion! Then hung! Interesting live in the old navy!
Title: Re: Maiden Voyage - Burial At Sea
Post by: cunardqueen on Aug 25, 2012, 03:17 PM
Anyone with a copy of C-Six by Dr Nigel Roberts..turn to pages 191 - 201..classic stories on this morbid subject..but they do make you laugh.
Title: Re: Maiden Voyage - Burial At Sea
Post by: Alan Snelson on May 07, 2015, 07:38 PM
It was required that a burial at sea was documented and we were called on to make a photographic record. I only attended one which would have been around 1980 but don't recall more than that regarding time frame.

The one I photographed, in the company of Tony Secker, took place on the three deck aft mooring deck. As I remember it was Captain Ridley who held the service. Unfortunately it is not an event which I remember very clearly beyond what I have written.